Sunday, January 9, 2011

Is Etiquette Making a Comeback?

For yo these many years, those of us who are older and presumably wiser have been imploring the younger generation to cease and desist with their constant rudeness and to start learning good manners.

Now the New York Post reports that more and more twentysomethings, in serious want of jobs, are turning to etiquette coaches. Link here.

Considering that rudeness, as we discovered a few days ago, has now been shown to be neurotoxin, it is not a minute too soon.

Some millennials are being sent by their employers, some by their parents. Some are even paying for it themselves.

All seem to realize that if you don’t know how to eat soup properly or how to chew with your mouth closed, you will be excluded from the dinners where connections are made and deals are negotiated.

For a generation that made a fetish out of rudeness these classes are merely a baby step that begins a very, very long journey.

Bad manners are bad habits. They do not just go away because you know the proper use of a napkin.

Replacing boorish habits with good ones is a long and arduous process, made that much more difficult when so many of your friends will not have taken the same etiquette classes.

If you step outside of the company lunch room and discover that you are the only one who is not slurping the soup, you are going to feel like an outsider, a reject, a pariah.

Peer pressure will induce you to retain your bad old habits. If you have one set of manners for the business lunch and another set for Happy Hour with your pals, you are going to find yourself split in two, not knowing which one is the real you.

My advice: once you learn good manners, practice them all the time, even at the risk of having your friends treat you like a retrograde cultural element.

If your habits are bad, they show themselves in nearly all of your day-to-day activities. If your friends are similarly deficient in acts of common courtesy and respect you have no doubt been suffering the neurotoxicity of bad manners for quite some time.

Bad manners do not begin and end and the dinner table. To mean anything at all they must become a way of life.

If your table manners are impeccable and you are chronically late for meetings, you will have missed the point. And if you are perfectly well put together sartorially but text during interviews and meetings, you will have shown yourself to be a poseur.

But, where did everyone’s good manners go? I think it fair to say that they were a casualty of our recent multicultural delirium. Think what you will about whether all cultures are created equal-- to me the idea makes no sense-- but there is only one set of manners that makes you courteous and respectful in your local community.

Table manners are local, but all cultures have table manners. If you believe that ingesting food is an opportunity to express your unique individuality, to take a stand against the dominant patriarchal culture, or to practice the virtues of spontaneity, then you will have been trained in rudeness.

Unfortunately, it’s a lot easier to get into rudeness than it is to get out of it.


Chuck Pelto said...

TO: All
RE: How About....

....getting back to basics?

Not nearly as expensive as therapy and you can do it in the privacy of your own home.


[Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company. -- George Washington]

Chuck Pelto said...

P.S. The Kindle version is only $4.....